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I was recently involved in an industry roundtable looking at the role of bots and automation to improve customer experience. Some major players across financial services, telco and government shared their views and experiences around pioneering ways to meet customer needs, and (while acknowledging the barriers to success) there was an air of excitement and opportunity on what might be with these new digital and social capabilities.

It was in this aspirational setting that one participant spoke up and detailed how a previous employer had KPI’d its service team on how long they could keep a customer engaged. Not how well or quickly they could solve customer issues – how long they could keep them on the phone. The logic being, the more contact a customer had with the business, the more they would learn and like about – and even buy from – them.

Sound absurd? Maybe. And no doubt this is more reflective of the ‘old way’ of doing things. But if we look around industry today, we’re still surrounded by examples of businesses making decisions on products and services that suit them and their metrics, not customers.

Tinder-itis – the challenge is real.

Customer tinder-itis - Propel
Customer tinder-itis can be avoided by listening to and servicing customer needs via social capabilities.

This sort of organisation-first thinking is contributing to the rise of a condition called ‘customer tinder-itis’: the pain and frustration experienced when a service interaction is more complex and drawn out than swiping your smartphone.

Yes – something as important as finding your life partner can start with a simple swipe of a thumb, and that sets product and service interaction expectations for banks, airlines, hospitality, retail and more.

Yet how easy is it for customers to get a new phone while still in a contract? Or how many times do customers need to state and re-state their details to even start resolving a service query? We’re surrounded by examples like this that show just how many organisations are tied to processes they like rather than those that serve customers’ best interests.

Are your service interactions invisible or painful?

So, if customers are willing to believe finding a life partner – someone they may well spend half a million hours of their lives with – is as simple as swiping a smartphone, why do organisations still think they’ll remain loyal when service experiences are a pain? They won’t. Expectations have changed.

As Paul Shetler puts it: “Newsflash, people don’t want to engage with y’all…people just want to get stuff done.” This thinking is supported by the rise of ‘invisible payments’, and the idea that we, as consumers, are far more interested in the outcomes enabled by a product or service than the experience of interacting with a product or service. Imagine Uber for restaurants, cafes, retail or public transport – the transaction process is removed, allowing the consumer to simply enjoy the experience. ‘Engagement’ is an organisational goal, not a consumer need.

Tap into real-time customer feedback to inform service capabilities.

How do you learn what customers need from your business? Yes, you can go down the focus group route and survey the views of a select group on a periodic basis. Or you could consider the role of social capabilities like social intelligence to access the already public opinions of millions of local consumers to guide service decisions. In real time.

We’ve even adopted an intelligence capability for a client that doesn’t have a social media presence, learning instead from the interactions and feedback on competitor businesses to inform customer service strategy. You don’t have to be on social media to benefit from social capabilities.

Are you making life easier or harder for your customers? How many times are they ‘swiping’ before you’re meeting their needs? The solution may not be social, but the means to finding solutions and meeting customer expectations must certainly include the valuable, real-time feedback they share every day online.

Author: Roger Christie

Roger Christie is Founder and Managing Director of Propel. He understands the importance and value of a customer-centric approach to business, and has worked with a range of public and private sector organisations to help them leverage data, technology and operational change to deliver practical business solutions. Over the past decade, Roger has advised boards and executive teams across government departments and ASX top ten corporations, and understands the challenges facing organisations looking to excel and remain viable in an increasingly competitive, discerning marketplace. You can connect with Roger on LinkedIn and Twitter, and follow his thoughts on Medium.

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